SARGY MANN: see more > see different > see better is the centerpiece of part two of the season Yn cynnwys ni? Does that include us? This follows on from the dynamic series of social gatherings, performances, practical activities, conversations and debates that formed the first part; a multi-artform programme of free events presented by artists, facilitators and activists – some who identify as disabled and some who don’t.
does that include us? / yn cynnwys ni? is the culmination of a year-long period of curatorial mentoring offered by g39 to artist-curator Gail Howard, and forms part of the Tu Fewn project supported by DASH and Disablity Arts Cymru. A Tu Fewn symposium is planned for later on in the year, please www.dasharts.org for updates.
The second part of the season is centred around six of his paintings from the later stages of his career. Mann (29 May 1937 - 5 April 2015) was a painter whose diverse works are recognisable by their bright colour scheme. He began to lose his eyesight in 1973 but was undeterred and continued to find new ways of seeing as his career progressed.
Without his vision, Mann was forced to find new ways to approach painting and described the process of learning 'how to reinvent painting for myself.' first using a specifically modified telescope to enlarge images. Mann created form and composition through touch, employing strategically placed lumps of Blu-Tack and rubber bands to map out his canvases.
Mann's technique changed not only in the physical sense of painting but also in his cognitive process of creating images. His memory and imagination became his vision, replacing straightforward observation, and his paintings celebrate this subjectivity. His son Peter created a documentary about his father’s adaptive techniques. The restrictions imposed by the reality of vision no longer applied to him, and he remarked that he had complete creative liberation. 'I chose the colour chord for each painting intuitively, thinking in an overtly decorative way which, before, I would never have allowed myself to do. It seems that blindness has given me the freedom to use colour in ways that I would not have dared to when I could see.'
The colours featured in Mann's work reflect the stages of his changing vision and the effects of each eye operation. His first cataract operation left 'his brain dazzling with blue light.' One eye saw differently from the other, and suddenly Mann was experimenting with single-eye versus double-eye vision.
In 2006, son Peter Mann created a documentary of his life, entitled Sargy Mann. The video is accompanied by a book, co-written by Peter and Sargy Mann, entitled Sargy Mann: Probably the Best Blind Painter in Peckham. Alongside these and with the paintings is a recording of the artist talking about the experience of this transition in his work and the transformative powers of light and colour.
Part two also features an exhibition of the documentary material produced in response to Part One, a documentary by Ben Ewart Dean, illustrations by Nic Finch and we will also be launching an accompanying publication designed by Nick Davies. The final performance of the whole season is a surtitled performance from Opera in Situ based on Kurt Weill's American opera Street Scene.